Opened in 1962, the Penang State Museum and Art Gallery tells the history of Penang through its collection of photographs, artifacts, paintings and other works of art. The museum, housed within the old Penang free school on Farquhar Road, is the best place to learn about how the island has changed over the years. Among the most interesting pieces are the photographs of old street scenes, showing the transition from horse-drawn carriages and rickshaws to electric buses and railways.
Another fascinating collection of artifacts dates back to the riots of 1867, when George Town erupted in violence as several Chinese secret societies began fighting in the streets, nearly causing a civil war.
Visitors can find a collection of works by local artists in the galleries on the first floor and a permanent collection of modern and contemporary art -- from 1965 onward -- on the second floor.